Plaudits and brickbats for the changing face of Help to Buy (Birmingham Post article 29.11.2018)

The Help to Buy equity loan scheme got extended in the Autumn Budget, but who can access it has been reduced and it remains controversial.

Enthusiasts say it is a big help to those looking to get on the housing ladder. Critics maintain it is simply enriching the major house builders.

Now it is being changed, with many hopeful participants set to find out that they may no longer be eligible.

Offering a 20 per cent Government loan (40 per cent in London) to buyers of new-build properties, it will run to 2023 – but there will be no further extension thereafter.

Previously more than 80 per cent of people who have bought a home using the scheme have been first-time buyers, but home movers have been able to use it as well as long as they didn’t own any other property.

You could buy a home up to £600,000.

The next version of the scheme caps the price depending on the region.

These are set at 1.5 times the current forecast regional average first-time buyer price, ranging from £186,100 in the North East up to a maximum of £600,000 in London. The new price cap for the West Midlands is £255,600.

Rob Houghton, chief executive of, told What Mortgage: “Our data shows that around 38 per cent of people who have used Help to Buy Equity Loans so far this year would no longer qualify after the changes in 2021, indicating that the revised scheme is quite rightly much more targeted towards first-time buyers.

“But despite its improvements, we’re pleased to see the scheme being scaled back, given that our analysis suggests there’s a risk that the Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme encourages higher prices, more than it helps first-time buyers or encourages new properties to be built.”

According to data from 41,000 first-time buyers using for home move services, those purchasing a new build via Help to Buy are paying an average £277,968, eight per cent more than the £257,908 of those outwith the scheme.

Daniel Hegarty, CEO and founder of digital mortgage broker Habito, told Homes & Property: “Originally designed to help those in less fortunate financial positions, the scheme hasn’t quite worked as intended, with over a third of households using it found to be earning over £50,000 and data showing it has been used by movers to upsize.

“The new restrictions making it for first-time buyers only with regional price caps should provide a more targeted benefit to those who need it most.”

Meanwhile, some sectors of society, such as young professionals, are finding different routes opening up to help them become first time buyers.

This is because the professions are deemed to have greater earning potential and job security.

So, for example, Kensington Mortgages’ Young Professionals Mortgage offers loans of up to 85 per cent of the property’s value. It’s designed for chartered accountants, actuaries, barristers, commercial pilots, dentists, medical doctors and solicitors. Applicants must be registered with the appropriate professional body and practising in the field.

Scottish Widows allows professionals to borrow up to 90 per cent.

And there are a host of others in what has become a highly competitive field.

OnlineMortgageAdvisor explains: “Many lenders offer qualifying applicants a better deal if they work in certain professions because they are often viewed as lower risk. Their qualifications, predictable career progression, and reliable income make them a much safer bet statistically, and as such some lenders choose to offer better deals to attract more of these types of borrower.”

Overall, a case of help to buy where the goalposts keep moving.